The Best of Rwanda Itinerary

Rwanda is a fascinating country to visit. It has wildlife, gorgeous nature, a green hilly capital and plenty of community-based tourism where you can learn about the country and its people. 

There is so much more to see than just the capital, Kigali. I spent two weeks in Rwanda exploring each corner and recommend taking a road trip or a tour around the country to visit the rest of the country's must-sees. The country is quite diverse so touring your way around it, whether that's independently or on a tour is a real eye-opener. 

Whether you're searching for a Rwanda itinerary 7 days or spending 2 weeks in Rwanda, I've included the best of Rwanda for either a week-long road trip or longer to ensure that you have an immersive and memorable experience in this African country. 

 Rwanda Itinerary

Rwanda 1 Week Itinerary 

1. Kigali (Day 1 & 2)

Start your journey in Kigali, the bustling capital city of Rwanda. Despite its tragic history, Kigali has evolved into a vibrant metropolis full of energy and hope. One place you have to visit here is the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a solemn reminder of Rwanda's past and its ongoing journey towards reconciliation and healing.

Kigali has plenty of activities such as walking or biking around the city. There is so much culture to immerse yourself in here from taking a food or coffee tour to experiencing Kimironko Market, where you can immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and taste authentic Rwandan dishes. 

For an enlightening cultural experience, the Nyamirambo Women’s Centre (NWC) is a fantastic centre to visit. This NGO supports local disadvantaged women with education, training, and employment opportunities. They provide tours to learn more about the diverse cultural and religious groups in Nyamirambo, Kigali, Rwanda's largest township.

 Rwanda Itinerary

2 Day Itinerary For Kigali:

Day 1:

  • Morning: Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial to learn about Rwanda's history and journey towards reconciliation.
  • Afternoon: Explore the Kimironko Market for a taste of local culture and cuisine.
  • Evening: If you're here on a Friday evening, the Manor Hotel has cultural performances with dancing and national songs. 

Day 2:

  • Morning: Start with a guided city tour, visiting landmarks such as the Presidential Palace Museum and Caplaki Craft Village.
  • Afternoon: Enjoy an afternoon at the Nyamirambo Women's Center.
  • Evening: Conclude your trip with a farewell dinner at a rooftop restaurant, trying some of the delicious Rwandan cuisine while taking in the city's skyline, including the Kigali Convention Centre that lights up at night. My recommended rooftop bars are: Rooftop Rendezvous, and Inzora Cafe. 

Where To Stay in Kigali

$ – Nziza View Hotel. I stayed at this 3-star hotel in Kigali. The staff were really friendly and became friends! They helped me to organise a motortaxi from here to the city to visit the museums. There’s a restaurant and bar onsite too. * Check rates & availability: Nziza View Hotel

$ – Tea House BNB. I also stayed at this b&b which was really nicely decorated and had a little patio. The garden restaurant was lovely too. I walked to the Campaign Against Genocide Museum from here which was a 20 minute walk and passed restaurants on the way. * Check rates & availability: Tea House BNB

$$ – Ubumwe Grande Hotel. If you prefer to stay in a 4-star hotel in the centre of Kigali, this hotel has an outdoor pool, a restaurant and a roof-top bar. It’s walking distance to the Kigali City Tower, Kandt House, and the Belgian Peacekeeper Memorial. * Check rates & availability: Ubumwe Grand Hotel

 Rwanda Itinerary

2. Volcanoes National Park (Day 3/4)

A trip to Rwanda isn't complete without visiting Volcanoes National Park. Rwanda has a commitment to preserving its wildlife and is home to the impressive mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and Rwanda is one of the best places to do it. 

When you go gorilla trekking, with knowledgeable guides, you hike through thick forests to find these endangered primates in their natural surroundings. Seeing these remarkable creatures up close is an unforgettable experience. (I personally did this in Uganda and loved it).

You will need to stay overnight here so you can set off in the morning for the gorilla trek. If you are visiting to go gorilla trekking, don't forget to get your Rwanda e-visa beforehand to make entering the country smoother and ensure a trouble-free journey.

Getting here: To travel from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park, you can either hire a car, take a taxi or use a tour operator. The journey typically takes around 2 hours by road, depending on traffic conditions and the specific route taken. * Check route here

Where To Stay in Volcanoes National Park

$$ – Kinigi Cottage. This cottage has amazing mountain views of the park, helpful and friendly staff and you get free breakfast too. Plus it’s close to the Dian Fossey Museum. It’s a great option if you love pets too.  * Check rates & availability: Kinigi Cottage

 Rwanda Itinerary

3. Lake Kivu (Day 5/6) 

Continue your journey to Lake Kivu, a beautiful freshwater lake surrounded by hills and scenic landscapes. Lake Kivu is stunning and you can take boat trips to see the islands on the lake. Napoleon Island has a colony of bats and even has cows living on it! You can go kayaking, or just relax around the peaceful shores soaking in the calm atmosphere. Take the chance to visit the quaint lakeside towns of Gisenyi and Kibuye, where you can meet locals, enjoy delicious fresh seafood, and watch breathtaking sunsets.

 Rwanda Itinerary

Day 1:

  • Morning: Take a boat tour to see the islands on the lake or go kayaking instead. 
  • Afternoon: Head to the lakeshore and spend some time relaxing on the beach or taking a stroll along the shore.
  • Evening: Explore the nearby town of Gisenyi, stroll through the streets, and grab dinner at a local restaurant where you can enjoy fresh seafood.

Day 2:

  • Morning: Wake up early to catch the sunrise over Lake Kivu, a beautiful sight not to be missed.
  • Late Morning: Visit the town of Kibuye and explore its charming lakeside setting. 
  • Afternoon: Have lunch at a lakeside restaurant in Kibuye and spend some more time relaxing by the water.
  • Evening: Head back to your accommodation at Lake Kivu and enjoy a leisurely evening by the lake, perhaps with a bonfire if allowed, or simply enjoy a quiet dinner while watching the sunset.

Getting here: To travel from Volcanoes National Park to Kibiye at Lake Kivu, the road drives southward from the park, passing through towns like Musanze and Rubavu. The journey takes 2.5 to 3 hours by car. * Check routes here

Where To Stay in Lake Kivu

There are several different areas of the lake that you can stay in. Here are the ones that I myself have stayed in and others that have been recommended. 

$$ – Kivu Hilltop View Resort. I stayed here and the view was stunning! There’s a 24 hour reception and a restaurant. The rooms are basic but the view definitely makes up for it. * Check rates & availability: Kivu Hilltop View Resort

$$ – Umutuzo Lodge Kivu Lake. Located in Buhoro, Umutuzo Lodge is in a peaceful location with gorgeous scenery and a restaurant serving a choice of cuisine. The access road does need a bit of navigating or they can pick you up from Kigali for a fee. * Check rates & availability: Umutuzo Lodge

$$$ – Rushel Kivu Resort. Or upgrade to this resort in Kayove which has lake and mountain views. The resort is on a sandy beach too. * Check rates & availability: Rushel Kivu Resort

 Rwanda Itinerary

4. Nyungwe Forest National Park (Day 7)

You've seen the gorillas, how about the chimpanzees? If you head south from lake Kivu towards the border with Burundi, you'll reach Nyungwe National Park, a lush area rich in plant and wildlife. Here you can take part in a chimpanzee trek to see these primates in their natural environment.

One of the other attractions here is the canopy walk where you walk on hanging bridges with stunning views of the forest. The park is also home to golden monkeys and if you're lucky (like I was), you may spot a golden monkey along the roadside as you drive through. Depending on when you arrive, here's a day itinerary for the park. 

  1. Early Breakfast: Start your day with a hearty breakfast to fuel your adventures.
  2. Morning: Head to the Uwinka Visitor Center and begin your day with a thrilling canopy walk. Experience the forest from a unique perspective as you walk along suspended bridges high above the ground. Enjoy panoramic views of the canopy and keep an eye out for various bird species and primates.
  3. Afternoon: Chimpanzee Trek: After lunch, embark on a chimpanzee trek led by experienced guides. Follow forest trails in search of these fascinating creatures and observe them in their natural habitat. Or Take a leisurely nature walk along one of the park's many trails. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the forest, and learn about the diverse flora and fauna from your guide.

Rwanda itinerary

Getting here:

To travel from Lake Kivu to Nyungwe Forest National Park, the most common route involves driving southeast from Lake Kivu, passing through towns like Kibuye and Cyangugu (also known as Rusizi). This journey can take around 4-6 hours by car, depending on the specific route taken and road conditions. You may also find public transportation options such as buses or minibusses available for this route.

This itinerary gives you an idea of what you can do in a week. From Nyungwe Forest National Park back to Kigali takes 3.5 hours by car. Or you can hop on the local bus for a 4.5 hour journey back to the capital. * Check routes here

Where To Stay in Nyungwe Forest National Park

$$ – Ear Ken Barham Guesthouse. Located in Rwumba, 24 km from Nyungwe National Park, this guest house has a restaurant, 24 hours reception, a garden and a bar to relax at after a day spent climbing canopies. * Check rates & availability: Ear Ken Barham Guesthouse

$$$ – Maravilla Kivu Eco Resort. If you prefer to stay in an eco lodge, this eco resort is a beautiful location surrounded by the lake with mango trees and the sounds of birds. Breakfast is included in the rate. * Check rates & availability: Maravilla Kivu Eco Resort

 Rwanda Itinerary

Rwanda Itinerary 14 Days

If you're planning a Rwanda trip for 2 weeks, you can extend your stay in Nyungwe for an extra night, spend more in Kigali after Nyungwe National Park then add on a safari in Akagera National Park at the end of your trip. 

I also recommend staying overnight in Huye Mountain and taking a coffee tour and visiting the Murambi Genocide Memorial to learn more about the history (it will move you to tears). There's also Ruhango for Kamegeri Rock, the National Ethnographic Museum and the King's Palace (which is amazing).

If you do decide to visit Akagera, here's what you can do here.

Rwanda itinerary

5. Akagera National Park

After heading back to Kigali, finish your road trip with a safari in Akagera National Park, Africa’s largest protected wetland and the refuge for savannah-adapted species in Rwanda. Go on a game drive through wide grasslands and thick forests, spotting various wildlife such as elephants, lions, giraffes, and zebras. Experience the raw beauty of the African wilderness before staying a safari lodge with a view of the park afterwards. 

Getting here: To travel from Nyungwe Forest National Park to Kigali takes 3.5 hours to drive or 4.5 hours by bus. You can then either drive from Kigali to Akagera National Park which takes 2 hours to drive or take a day tour from Kigali. Then return to the capital and stay overnight. 

Where To Stay in Akagera

$$ – Rutete Eco Lodge. Set in Rwinkwavu, this eco lodge comes complete with a terrace, garden, lounge and bar so you can relax after a long day of wildlife spotting. * Check rates & availability: Rutete Eco Lodge

$$$ – Akagera Transit Lodge. Stay in Akagera itself in this beautiful lodge with a shared kitchen, restaurant, garden, bar and terrace. Each room is spacious with a garden view and they also provide lunch boxes for your safari too. * Check rates & availability: Akagera Transit Lodge

Rwanda itinerary

Finally

From exploring Kigali's lively streets to hiking in Volcanoes National Park and relaxing by Lake Kivu, Rwanda has a lot to offer and I hope that my Rwanda travel itinerary has inspired you to visit. Rwanda is one of my favourite countries in Africa and I hope that it soon becomes one of yours too. 

Want more on Rwanda? Check out the Solo Travel in Rwanda guide 

Rwanda Itinerary

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